Women and Film: Both Sides of the Camera

Women and Film: Both Sides of the Camera

Women and Film: Both Sides of the Camera

Women and Film: Both Sides of the Camera

Excerpt

The idea for this book arose out of the course on women in film that I have been teaching for exactly ten years. I ran my first class in 1972 when women’s studies was just getting under way in America and before the influence of semiology, structuralism, or psychoanalysis had begun to be felt. Since then, the course has gone through many different incarnations as my ideas developed in accordance with my experiences in teaching, my reading of the work of other feminists, and my own writing and thinking that has contributed to ongoing debates. In a sense, this book brings together ideas that I have wrestled with over a long period of time as I reacted to the various phases of the women’s movement, which could not help but influence my work.

When I began teaching the course, I was working in a void; now, with the growth of a substantial body of feminist film theory on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as in France and Germany, many resources are available and the course starts out with a brief “history” of feminist film criticism. One could say that, over the past ten years, women have created an entire field within film studies which is now producing some of the most stimulating, intelligent, and exciting work going on and which has dramatically influenced the criticism of male writers as well. Few books on film, whether written by men or women, can now ignore issues of female representation.

But clearly a great deal of work remains to be done; sometimes I think that we are really only just beginning. The tension between theory and practice remains, as do differences about the most useful theoretical approaches. The field is changing and taking new directions as a result of the many graduate film students doing research and writing dissertations on women in film. Often very much influenced by psychoanalysis and semiology, these students are nevertheless asking new questions and establishing new lines of thought. Some are turning to the still neglected study of important Hollywood women

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